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Consultation launched on measures to improve standards in private rented sector housing

Published on Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Aerial view of homes in Braunstone

PEOPLE are being asked to give their views on a range of measures being proposed to help safeguard tenants in communities across the city and tackle rogue landlords.

Leicester City Council is considering bringing in extra measures requiring landlords and properties to be properly licensed in order to protect the most vulnerable people and improve the standards of private-sector rented housing citywide.

Three different options – or combinations of these options – are being consulted upon to give people the chance to get involved in the decision making which will help their local neighbourhoods.

Councils have existing mandatory powers and these proposed schemes look to widen the scope of those where there is evidence of ongoing issues.

The city council’s consultation sets out three options showing how these different approaches could be used to improve private rented sector standards.

The first approach would involve bringing in Selective Licensing, which would require all privately-rented properties to be licensed by the city council, and which would operate within parts of the city’s Westcotes, Fosse, Saffron, Stoneygate, Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields wards.

A second option proposes introducing citywide Additional Licensing, which would require all small HMOs occupied by three or four unrelated tenants who share facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms, to be licensed. It would operate in all areas of the city.

A third option would bring in Additional Licensing only within parts of Westcotes, Fosse, Stoneygate, Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields.

Each of the proposed licensing measures would place conditions on the landlord to ensure issues such as gas and electrical safety, installation of smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alarms are adequately dealt with, along with matters such a repairs and maintenance, waste disposal, tenancy management and addressing antisocial behaviour.

The consultation on the three approaches has now been launched and will run until February 22, 2022.

Leicester assistant city mayor for housing, Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, said: “Access to decent affordable housing is essential to support good health and wellbeing and a good quality of life.

“Ongoing pressures within the housing market mean that for many, including a rising proportion of families, the only chance of a decent home is a private rented tenancy.

“We are committed to improving the quality of private-sector rented housing in the city, by ensuring both landlords and tenants are supported and engaged with us.

“Our responsibility is to protect the most vulnerable people by ensuring their housing, and their landlords, meet a higher standard in terms of safety, maintenance and the effect on the wider community.

“Additional Licensing would include smaller HMOs of three or more people, rather than five or more, and ensuring they are properly licensed.

“Selective Licensing would give us the powers to ensure all properties in those targeted areas are licensed.

“While licensing helps us improve safety standards in the first instance, with a robust enforcement action plan it can also benefit the wider community.”

Additional Licensing and Selective Licensing are the latest steps being considered by the city council to both crackdown on rogue landlords and improve the standards of private-sector rentals.

Earlier this month, the city council announced it was launching a consultation on plans to expand legislation known as an Article 4 Direction, which means planning permission would be needed to convert any house into a HMO in certain areas of the city.

An Article 4 Direction already exists covering parts of the West End, streets near to De Montfort University’s campus and Leicester Royal Infirmary, numerous streets in the area between New Walk and HMP Leicester, as well as most of Clarendon Park and a section south of Lancaster Road.

That would be expanded to include thousands more homes from Rowley Fields, to Westcotes, Newfoundpool and parts of the Waterside area, as well as much of Knighton Fields, Knighton, Stoneygate, part of Aylestone, along with most of Spinney Hills and Highfields.

To take part in the consultation visit here.

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